Tactical Advice

Review: HP CN1100E Dual-Port Converged Network Adapter

This adapter pulls double-duty in the data center.
Product Review: HP CN1100E Dual-Port Converged Network Adapter
HP CN1100E Dual-Port Converged Network Adapter

Converged networks aim to simplify both the network and the life of the network administrator. Instead of having two separate adapters for storage and network equipment, the HP CN1100E Dual-Port Converged Network Adapter alone does the job.

The HP converged network adapter connects to clients, servers, switches and PCs running 10 Gigabit Ethernet and to Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) or iSCSI storage. IT managers can also link the adapter to a converged switch linked to Fibre Channel storage.

Advantages

The CN1100E requires only one management interface, one set of configuration options, and one type of cabling to support networking and storage. The two ports can be dedicated to both functions, or IT managers can use them together. In either case, two 10 Gig-E connections can provide enough bandwidth to support many users, as long as the server can keep up.

Most servers made in the past two to three years should work fine with the converged network adapter. The HP ProLiant Gen8, G7 and G6 DL and ML platforms have been tested with the CN1100E. Earlier servers may experience very high utilization (or may not work at all). HP offers drivers for all the major networking operating systems, including Microsoft Windows 2008, Microsoft Windows Hyper-V, Red Hat Linux, SUSE Linux and VMware.

Why It Works for IT

Complexity is the enemy in IT. When an administrator has to troubleshoot the network, the fewer the components, the easier the job will be. Consolidating networking and storage into a single network adapter rather than requiring a host bus adapter for storage and a network interface card for networking just makes life easier for the administrator. It also reduces the number of spare adapters the administrator needs to stock to ensure 24/7 operations.

Reducing the number of switches and storage systems also reduces overall power and cooling requirements. Existing Fibre Channel systems can continue to be used, and new storage that supports 10 Gig-E, iSCSI or FCoE will also work.

Disadvantages

Since the CN1100E can connect only via Ethernet, it requires either a switch or storage that supports the FCoE protocol to enable connecting to storage. The number of storage systems that directly support FCoE are limited, and converged switches that support both Ethernet and Fibre Channel tend to be expensive — possibly more expensive than a managed Ethernet switch and a separate Fibre Channel switch. However, ease of use and the reduced requirements for cabling and parts could make up the difference in a large data center.

While HP has tested the CN1100E with the HP A5820X-SFP+ and B-series converged network switches and the Cisco Nexus 5000 converged network switches, it may or may not work with other switches, even if they have FCoE implemented. Similarly, HP P2000/MSA, P6000/EVA and P9000/XP storage systems have been tested. When using other storage, check to see if it has been certified to work with the CN1100E.

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About the Author

Logan Harbaugh

Logan G. Harbaugh

Logan Harbaugh is a longtime technology journalist, with experience in reviewing a wide range of IT products including network operating systems, clustering, load balancing, NAS and SAN systems, traffic simulation, network management and server hardware.

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